WTSF: On Basilisk Station- Part One

Have you ever seen a book cover and thought “what in the hell could that possibly be about?” Well, we’re actually digging in to one of those weird novelties (two actually) to figure out what the hell is going on. And, because this is too much work for one solitary book detective, I’m bringing in a partner. So me and my pal Kyla MacDonald will be alternating weeks, each with our own weird book, breaking them down and digging in deep, trying to once and for all figure out… WTSF?

This week, it’s Kyla’s turn to talk about her weird-ass book. Which is hopefully better than mine but most likely isn’t. Take it away, Kyla!

on-basilisk-station

First off, can we talk about that cat? That cat. It’s smug-ass creepy expression is on the cover of nearly every book in the series, and I still can’t quite guess as to the nature of his relationship with Miss Honor our protagonist. I mean, look at that tender little hand hold going on there. So demure. Is the cat sentient? Is he going to be a speaking character? His gross humanoid face just raises so many questions.

Also, who is Mr. Creeper lingering there in the corner? Context clues tell me rival or evil superior, but my heart hopes he’s just a really awkward suitor. His ominous blurry glare could be directed at Smug Cat, his rival for Miss Honor’s heart. I have a feeling I’m going to be disappointed by the lack of romantic subplots in this book.

ON TO THE BOOK

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I think it’s fitting that the first experience I have with the book is this shitty excuse for a map. There is no map key to help me understand what all this means. Are these planets? Why do the arrows, which I assume mean paths of travel, only go one way? Is that a Halo ring??? While I was searching for an image of this map, I actually found some much better fan created ones. They helped explain what all of this means. But too bad for you, you’re getting the real On Basilisk Station experience.

So the book opens as many bad sci-fi books do: with an extremely boring exposition-heavy prologue. Right off the bat, we get a bunch of names, all of which I forgot as soon as my eye passed over them. All you really need to know is there is an evil president of the evil space federation, and his cabinet is encouraging him to take over some nearby territories (including Manticore) to solve their debt problem. I swear, if Weber tries to create a Dune-esk clusterf**k of complicated politics I will lose my mind. The prologues only saving grace is the line:

“We’re riding a neotiger, Mr. President”

Finally we get into the story and, guys! GUYS! It’s a ‘treecat’!

That creepy asshole cat on the cover is apparently part of empathic species that has six limbs and can only say “bleek”. His name is Nimitz, and I’m pretty sure his main function in the book is going to be serving as a really obvious reflection of our protagonist’s inner feelings. Because who needs subtle complex emotional development when you can have empathic treecats?

By the way, there is definitely some nasty sexual tension going on between our protagonist Miss Honor Harrington and her companion. I mean look at this:

“It was the special beret, the white one she’d bought when they gave her Hawkwing, and she chivied Nimitz’s jaw gently aside and settled it on her head. The treecat put up with her until she had it adjusted just so, then shoved his chin back into its soft warmth, and she felt her face crease in a huge grin as she turned to the hatch.”

There’s just a cringe worthy amount of purring, nuzzling, and smiling going on in this first chapter.

A little more on Miss Honor Harrington. She seems to be a fairly basic sci-fi lead: an officer of the Manticore Navy Fleet (space Navy mind you), not overly confident in her appearance though everyone else seems enamored with her, and of course “special” because she was chosen by a treecat. It’s all pretty formulaic for her to become the hero and have some romantic drama.

Her story starts right after a huge promotion in which she’s been given the right to Captain her own cruiser, Fearless. Despite her excitement, she still has reservations due to how much her mentor Admiral Courvosier seems to be keeping her in the dark about something.

When she arrives at her ship she meets Lieutenant Commander Alistair McKeon. Of course McKeon is instantly taken with her, but he’s also resentful and jealous. He was gunning to be Captain of Fearless, but instead the position has been given to a woman with less experience than him. My bet is he is Mr. Creeper on the cover, which means pretty much all of my predictions seem to be coming true. Lieutenant McKeon then takes Honor on a tour of the ship, which is under major renovations. There is a bunch of mythology gobbly-gook here which explains why Honor is so displeased with the weapon installations, but I really can’t be bothered to care.

So that’s about it. So far, despite it reading like bad overly detailed fiction, I have to admit I am kind of interested. Mostly I’m just waiting for something really juicy and ridiculous to happen.

Thank you, Kyla, and that’s it for this week. Next week, I’ll be back with more March to the Sea but Kyla will be back in two in case you already like her better than me.

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